SEOUL – South Korea’s ruling party on Friday showed a mixed reaction to a statement issued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
“We think of the statement as meaningful as (Abe) mentioned remorse and apology for the past history,” a statement by the Saenuri Party said.
However, the party said that the Abe statement “has room for improvement because it did not directly mention remorse and apology for Japan’s past history of aggression, but only expressed them in a roundabout way in the past tense.”
In his statement, Abe said, “Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war.”
The Saenuri Party also said it will “continue to urge Japan to show sincere repentance for the past history and also make actual efforts for peace.”
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, meanwhile, said the Abe statement was “deeply disappointing for lacking sincere remorse and apology.”
The opposition party said that although the Abe statement contained all four key words that were also in the landmark 1995 statement issued by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama — “colonial rule,” “aggression,” “apology” and “remorse” — it “avoided responsibility in a tactful way.”
“Japan . . . through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations,” Murayama had said.
“I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology.”
But Abe stopped short of offering his direct apology or expression of remorse and also referred to “colonial rule” and “aggression” in a broader sense.
The South Korean opposition party said, “We make it clear Japan can never become a future-oriented nation if it holds such an attitude of trying to evade responsibility for the past history.”
Among South Korean media, Yonhap News Agency reported that Abe did not clearly offer his own apology for Japan’s wartime actions and that the statement fell “short of South Korea’s expectations.”
The South Korean government has yet to react to Abe’s statement that was issued in Tokyo on Friday evening.